Alyssa Healy in action. ©ICC

Three-time champions Australia outplayed their opponents Pakistan in the second match of the ICC Women’s World Twenty-20, to get their campaign off to a winning start, registering a massive 52-run victory.

Having won the toss, Australia elected to bat first; a decision that came as no surprise considering India’s first inning exploits in the opening match of the tournament. The Australian squad was unchanged from the XI they played in their series against Pakistan. This meant that Jess Jonassen, who was returning from injury, was not selected; a decision that may have come as a surprise to many.

In the Powerplay, Alyssa Healy and Beth Mooney got their team off to an absolute flier of a start. Healy and Mooney seemed to be dealing only in boundaries, taking 15 runs off a particularly expensive Nashra Sandhu over. The two seemed to be playing Pakistan’s spinners with ease and since Pakistan used only their spinners in the Powerplay, they were smashed to all parts of the ground. At the end of the Powerplay, Australia were 58 for no loss and looked to be on track to score a big total of 190 to 200 runs.

It was not until the eighth over that pace was introduced. But, the change brought immediate results as Aliya Riaz had Alyssa Healy caught by Nahida Khan on the boundary. Healy was looking to go big after having hit the previous ball for a four, but this time, was unsuccessful. She departed for a brilliant 48 off 28 deliveries. A knock that consisted of eight fours and a maximum. Her wicket brought Australian skipper Meg Lanning to the crease. She was promoted up the order, coming in for Ashleigh Gardener.

Lanning and Mooney kept the scoreboard ticking over nicely, but the Pakistan bowlers did well to pull the Australian attack back. It turned out to be a case of the ‘unfortunate forties’ for the Australians. Mooney departed for a 48 as well, hers’ coming off 39 balls. The very next delivery gets hit for -in commentator Alan Wilkins’ words- a “glorious, effortless” six by Lanning. She then fell for a well-made 34-ball-41, chopping a Riaz delivery unto her stumps.

Useful contributions from Gardener (13 off 10) and Ellyse Perry (6* off 2) helped power the Australians to 165-5. Pakistan, at the end of the innings, would have taken this total over the 190+ one Australia threatened to post. The team in gold though would be disappointed they did not capitalize as well on the start as they could have.

For Pakistan, Aliya Riaz was the standout bowler. She took two wickets and gave just 25 runs off her four overs, despite the onslaught of runs from her opposition. Nashra Sandhu also took two wickets but, was quite expensive, going for 43 runs.

Chasing, Pakistan got off to a horror start as opener Ayesha Zafar was dismissed for a two by Megan Schutt in the first over. N. Khan and promising youngster Omaima Sohail then worked to rebuild the innings. Sohail looked to be in fine touch again, scoring a rapid 20 off 11 balls. She was then run out by Delissa Kimmice, with assistance from Healy. From there, it was an uphill batter for the team in green. Especially after the wicket of Nahida Khan also fell inside the Powerplay. At the end of the six overs, Pakistan were 33-3.

Matters just went from bad to worse for Pakistan from there. The batters struggled under lights as the ball started gripping and spinning more towards the back end of the innings. The pitch was now becoming slower as well, more like the pitch we were expecting in Guyana. In these conditions, Javeria Khan, Nida Dar and Riaz were all sent back to the dugout for single digits.

Bismah Maroof top-scored with a 26 off 25 balls, while a fighting 35 run partnership between Sana Mir (20*) and Sidra Nawaz (13) tried to salvage the innings. But, Pakistan had scored too slowly from the start. They then lost a flurry of wickets and could only manage a 113-8 in reply, losing by 52 runs. Healy was remarkable behind the stumps, effecting two stumpings, taking two catches and assisting in a run out. For her all-round efforts, she was named Player-of-the-Match.

With the ball, Megan Schutt and Georgia Wareham took two wickets a piece, giving 13 and 18 runs respectively. Gardener, Sophie Molineux and Delissa Kimmince chipped in with a wicket each as well.

Overall, both teams were found to be lacking in the fielding department. Pakistan missed some half-chances that they needed to take against a side as strong as Australia. There were also several misfields that resulted in boundaries for their opponents, helping them along. In Australia’s case, they were again some misfields, as well as a couple of runs that were given due to overthrows. Both teams will look to improve in this area.

Australia’s convincing win takes them to the top of the group table based on a superior run rate to India’s. This also means Pakistan drops to the bottom of the ladder. Pakistan’s next match will be against India and they will be hoping to bounce back against their arch rivals, while Australia take on Ireland.